Merry Xmas

Atheists participate in holiday festivities despite no religious affiliation

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Santa’s list doesn’t have fine print.

Junior Andrew Rosin doesn’t believe in God, nor does he come from a Christian background–but his family has always celebrated Christmas, despite his Jewish upbringing and later atheism.

“When I was a little kid and didn’t know any better, my parents would take me to temple because I lived in a Jewish family,” Rosin said. “I didn’t know to question it, but about the time I realized Santa wasn’t real, it kind of dawned on me that maybe (God) isn’t.”

Senior and atheist Kaitlin Simpson also experienced religious influence at a young age, but soon realized Christianity wasn’t for her.

“When I was younger, I was put into vacation Bible schools and had to go to Christian daycare,” Simpson said. “To me, the whole time, I was not into any of it. It didn’t make sense to me, and so I’m an atheist.”

Simpson’s beliefs cause family to take precedence over worship during her holiday activities, despite her family’s inclusion of traditional customs.

“I go to my family’s, and we all have this giant Christmas tree,” Simpson said. “We do the White Elephant gift exchange…We all say ‘Merry Christmas,’ but at the end of the day, I think it’s more about celebrating the holidays and getting together with your family…for me, than it is about worshipping God or Jesus’ birth.”

Winter may be a popular season for celebrations of all kinds, but according to atheist and senior Jessica Cooper, department stores promote Christmas over other holidays.

“It’s very widely displayed in media and in society that Christmas is the big holiday that everybody should celebrate,” Cooper said. “We know that’s not the case. Still, when you go to a store, you see three aisles of Christmas decorations and then a quarter of one aisle is Hanukkah decorations.”

While winter is Christmas-centric, Rosin said gift-giving is one of the best parts of the holiday, regardless of marketing ploys. Cooper said she agreed; she loves the commercialized aspects of Christmas, including gift-giving and holiday music.

“I love everything about Christmas,” Cooper said. “I even love singing the songs…about Jesus being born…I view Christmas and the story of Jesus and him being born kind of like some people view the Greek and Roman myths. They teach us a lesson, and I find interest in it, and I do like it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I believe in it.”

According to Cooper, it is beneficial to question popular religions and develop a personal opinion, whether or not that opinion includes a belief in God.

“(Atheism) is a growing community,” Cooper said. “I know that some people would view that as a bad thing, but I don’t…I think it’s important that people not just take everything (from) a religious text or a book or anything really…I don’t think they should just take the information and automatically believe in it. I think it’s important to question, and I mean, religion is fine. If you come to that conclusion, then that’s good. That’s great. I think it should be your conclusion to come to.”

Though atheism is part of Simpson’s conclusion, Simpson said she wants her future children to experience Christmas, even if her celebrations won’t emphasize the religious aspect.

“I will celebrate Christmas because I wouldn’t want my children to feel left out of something that is a tradition, especially one that…spans not just the United States but many different cultures,” Simpson said. “I wouldn’t want them to miss out on that experience, but I would probably give them more options. I’d be like, ‘You can call it Merry Yuletide, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, all of those,’ or, ‘You can just say Happy Holidays’ which is what I do.”

Though Christmas has become a societal norm, Simpson doesn’t have a problem with it; she said a lack of belief in God doesn’t create a division between her and the celebrations of the holiday season.

“I don’t think it really affects me too much that I’m an atheist and that I celebrate Christmas,” Simpson said. “It’s something I’ve done all my life, even if when I was younger, it was associated with going to church and having to worship during that time. As I grew older, I just accepted the commercialized version of Christmas because it’s a holiday that everyone celebrates, and I wouldn’t really have it any
other way.”

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